An Electronic Database of Medieval Commentators

on Aristotle and Peter Lombard's Sentences

© Steven J. Livesey, 1988-2013. All Rights Reserved

About CommBase

System Requirements

Installing CommBase

Maneuvering in CommBase

Field Structure for Database Tables

Conditions of Use

Illustration: Vatican City, Biblioteca Vaticana, Vat. lat. 92, f. 1r.
Used with permission of Fr. Leonard E. Boyle, Biblioteca Vaticana.

Download CommBase in MS Access 2007 format | Click here

This is the most current version of the data, but requires installed version of MS Access 2007 or later versions of the program.  Users are advised that the data are being updated regularly; repeat downloads from this site will ensure access to the most accurate information.  An older 32-bit version of the data in MS Access 2003 format is available below, but has not been updated since May 1, 2008; a 16-bit version of the database, accessible under a self-contained program created in Visual Basic is available below.  Please be aware that the data in that version have not been updated since September 2001.


International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages-Online (IEMA)

Data from CommBase are being reformatted as entries in The International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages-Online (IEMA), an entirely new supplement to the Lexikon des Mittelalters (LexMA).  Produced under the joint auspices of the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Brepols Publishers, it will be made available at Brepolis, the Brepols site for online medieval encyclopedias, bibliographies, and databases. The chronological range of IEMA is 300-1500 CE, and it will cover all of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.  IEMA will complement and fill in gaps in the coverage of the present Lexikon des Mittelalters (LexMA).  For information about this publication, visit Project: Commentaries on Peter Lombard's Sentences

A Société Internationale pour l’Etude de la Philosophie Médiévale Project on Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences has been established to bring together research and information on commentaries. While it is the intention of those directing the project that it should serve as a clearing house for information on manuscripts and editions of commentaries and questions on the Sentences, the initial goal is the revision and updating of Friedrich Stegmüller’s Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi (Würzburg 1947).  Data from CommBase will be incorporated into parts of this project.  For information about the project, see



Download CommBase in MS Access 2003 format | Click here

This version was last updated on May 1, 2008; users are advised that the most current data are available only in MS Access 2007 format, available above.  An older 16-bit version of the database, accessible under a self-contained program created in Visual Basic is available below.  Please be aware that the data in that version have not been updated since September 2001.


About CommBase

CommBase is a biographical database of medieval commentators on the works of Aristotle and Peter Lombard's Sentences. Both the software and the data set presented here are preliminary versions of the database, circulated for private use by scholars in the hope that users will provide information about necessary corrections and modifications. While this guide does not pretend to be a comprehensive manual, it may be of use in installing and using the program and data tables.

System Requirements

1. IBM-compatible PC with a 386DX processor or greater, at least 16 MB RAM, and at least 15 MB of free hard disk space.

2. MS-Windows 3.1 or later.

3. A mouse that is supported by Windows.

Installing CommBase

To install CommBase on a PC running Windows 3.1 or 3.11 or Windows 95:

1. Download the compressed CommBase Installation files ( and a compressed file containing the data set ( by clicking on the links here.

2. Decompress the Installation files ( For shareware versions of decompression programs for Windows 3.x and Windows 95, consult the mirror sites linked here.

3. From the File menu in the Windows Program manager (or in Windows 95, from Start), choose Run.

4. Depending on the location of the downloaded CommBase Installation file on your hard drive, type the appropriate pathname ending in the command CommBase [i.e. C:\\commbase] in the Run dialog box. Press Return and follow the instructions on the screen.

5. Unless you direct the program to install the application in another directory, the default installation directory will be \CommBase.

6. Decompress the data set compressed in the file The data set must be stored in the same directory as the application executable file.

Maneuvering in CommBase

Version 1.0 is a rudimentary form of the program that allows the user to browse and edit records in the data set. At present, users may access the data only through the name of the commentator. It is anticipated that in future versions, one may enter the data set through subsets of any of the data.

Execute the program by double clicking on the CommBase icon in the Windows 3.1 (3.11) Program Manager. Under Windows 95, CommBase will appear in the list of installed programs in the Program menu, or one may execute the program by double clicking on the CommBase shortcut icon.

After the initial screen, the basic screen lists five menus: File, View, Options, Window, and Help. Under View, only Name List is actively displayed, and by clicking on this option, one advances to a screen displaying a list of commentators on file, in alphabetical order. One may either scroll through the list to find the desired individual, or refine the search by clicking on Advanced in the lower right of the screen. A further dialog box appears, in which one may specify the search for commentators by a refinement of the name, or by specifying the birth city or region. Entering 'Richardus' in the name field will reduce the range of names in the display grid to those commentators whose entered names begin with 'Richardus.' Entering '* de Anglia' in the name field will reduce the range of names to those commentators whose entered names include this place-name designation. Entering 'Florence' in the city field will reduce the range of names to those commentators whose birthplace in the database is Florence. Similar considerations apply to the birth region [e.g. 'Tuscany']. The check box above the name field permits one to search both the name field in the data set and an alias field of alternate names, and one may combine entries in more than one field by choosing the 'and' or 'or' button to the right. After specifying the desired search characteristics, click the Refresh button to the right, and the display grid will show the appropriately refined data.

Highlight the name of the desired commentator, then click Open. The program moves to the personal data screen for the commentator, displaying the commentator's name, alias(es), birth and death information, flourishing date, social class, and for those originating in towns, the family profession. Data in any field may be entered, edited, or deleted. Click the History button near the lower right. The program moves to a third screen containing records stored in nine separate tables: Intellectual Products (i.e. written works composed by the commentator), Educational History, Ecclesiastical Career, Professional Positions, Voyages, Intellectual Relationships, Religious Orders, Teaching (i.e. courses taught), and a bibliographical file for sources used in the creation of records for the commentator. Clicking on any of the nine buttons at the base of the screen brings one to the first record for the author in that category; the right and left arrows in the lower right portion of the screen permit one to scroll through successive records in the category. As before, records may be edited or deleted within the screen form; to add a record, one must first click the Add New button to the right, which will reset the screen to a blank data-entry form.

In general, the presentation of the data is straightforward. There are, however, a few conventions that have been followed in the creation of the database.

1. The determining criterion for including an author in the database is that the medieval scholar produced a commentary, evidence for which may be either its survival in an extant manuscript or printed edition, the historical reference to such a work in bibliographical sources such as John Bale's Catalogus or John Leland's Collectanea, its citation by the author or another reader, or its inclusion in early library catalogues. Historical references to assignments as lecturers on Aristotle or the Sentences will not qualify an individual for inclusion, although for those qualifying on textual grounds, such information will be included in the 'Teaching' category of the database.

2. I have preferred to leave fields blank unless historical data are available. In general, dates have been specified only when the evidence is meaningful. I have not, for example, entered a general flourishing date for all records, because this would obscure the more precise dates where they are available. Similar considerations apply to location fields. A blank field indicates the need for further work.

3. All records contain a comments field near the bottom of the record. This field stores abbreviated bibliographical references used to create the record. Extended bibliographical information may be found in the Bibliography file for the commentator.

4. At the beginning of the comments field, records contain a single ~ when the information contained in it is in some doubt, but supported by at least one source. A double ~~ indicates that the information is spurious [e.g. the text in the Intellectual Products table has been misattributed to the commentator].

5. In general, I have attempted to convert geographical locations to their modern counterparts, at least at the country level. To facilitate searches, I have adopted standard English orthography of place names, so that Köln is entered as Cologne.

While the program permits somewhat flexible examination of the data, the greatest flexibility can be achieved by using MS Access 2.0 or higher. The database file Commbase.mdb upon which the program operates contains several queries that I have prepared and stored for future use. The queries are invisible to those using only the CommBase browser, but users of Access may execute or modify them, or indeed create new queries of the data. At present, the CommBase browser contains no print routine, and the most effective means of printing subsets of the data is through Access or a compatible commercial database program.

There is also no on-line help at present (although I hope to add this feature in the future). Should you encounter difficulties with the program or the data, you may contact me in several ways:

Steven J. Livesey, Department of the History of Science, The University of Oklahoma, 601 Elm, Room 625, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, U.S.A.

Telephone: (405) 325-2213

FAX: (405) 325-2363


COMMBASE. An Electronic Database of Medieval Commentators on Aristotle and the Sentences

Copyright Steven J. Livesey, 1988-2013. All Rights Reserved.

Revision History: DOC/dBASE (PROSBASE) authors Scott Downie, Steven J. Livesey and Shawn M. Smith, 1988-1993. Windows Version 1.0 by J. Boyd Nolan and Shawn M. Smith, 1995.

The data set and accompanying application have been furnished under the following conditions:

1. These materials are to be used only for the purposes of non-commercial research and teaching.

2. COMMBASE and its creators are to be acknowledged in any publication, whether printed, electronic, or broadcast, based wholly or in part on the database. It is suggested that such acknowledgment should follow that adopted by the ESRC Data Archive, University of Essex. The acknowledgment must also declare that the creators of COMMBASE bear no responsibility for further analysis or interpretation of the data. A copy of any published work based wholly or in part on the data set must be sent to the creators.

3. Copies of the data set or the application are not to be distributed to others except as necessary to carry out the purposes specified in clause 1.

4. The creators are to be notified of any errors discovered in the data set or the application.

The creators of COMMBASE bear no legal responsibility for its accuracy or comprehensiveness.